Akan History

Door , 22/08/2009 18:06

Throughout the period between 1715 and 1887, when Sefwi finally came under the British, Asante maintained its rule in the area. By the reign of Osei Kwadwo, Asante power had stretched farther westwards into part of the Anyi-Baule region of the Ivory Coast. The whole of modern Sefwi had been brought under Asante rule by the 1770’s, when Osei Kwadwo is said to have defeated the former Aowin principality of Bonzan. Bonzan traditions agree that they came under Sefwi Wiawso at the suggestion of the Asante. To pacify the former powerful Bonzan Wiawso agreed to make it the Krontihene of the state.

One of the mysteries in Sefwi history is its relationship with Ebiri Moro. Fuller, without citing his source of information, asserts that one Ebiri Moro, King of Sefwi, sacked Kumasi when the Asante armies were gone to war against Akyem. This happened according to Fuller, during the reign of Opoku Ware. It is interesting to note that none of the chiefs interviewed could tell of Ebiri Moro’s identity. Perhaps one may argue that since his actions brought the state into disrepute the Sefwi people have deliberately struck out his name from the king lists. I am inclined to believe that no such an attempt has been made. Judging from the intense rivalry among the paramount stools, it is not unlikely that one of them would have shown who Ebiri Moro was as long as he was not connected with their stool. All the available information, however, makes Ebiri Moro either a ruler of Ahafo or Aowin. Indeed, Wiawso traditions assert that it could not have been a ruler of Sefwi since they were at that time fighting with the Asante army.

Nor do the 19th and early 20th century traditions collected associate him with Sefwi. Reindorf asserts that Ebiri Moro was the ruler of Parana and that Amankwatia fought and defeated Obumankoma and not Ebiri Moro. Kumawu traditions collected by Rattray in the 1920’s associate Ebiri Moro with Wassa. Judging from Sefwi relations with Asante at the beginning of the 18th century, it is difficult to believe that they would have been bold enough to have carried an attack to the capital of their overlord. It appears that the historian interested in finding more about this mysterious Ebiri Moro must search for him in the Aowin states which are in both Ghana and the Ivory Coast or in the Bono Takyiman-Wenchi area.


With the influx of people from many parts of the country especially from Adanse which is known to be the first organized Akan state “from which other states learned the art of government”, the social and political systems of Sefwi have been much influenced by the immigrants. The present basic social structure may be said to be the super imposition of the highly developed pure Akan clan system on one which had hitherto been organised primarily around living quarters and in Asafo or warrior company groups. The outcome on the whole has not been a very satisfactory marriage. This explains the confusion about the various clans who claim to be eligible to occupy important stools. In Anhwiaso and Wiawso it appears that the struggles between the various clans are primarily due to the unsuccessful merger of the two dissimilar institutions i.e. the pure Akan clan system on the one hand, and the Aowin-Bono system on the other.

Nowhere is this situation as pronounced as in the Wiawso state. There the clan in which the paramount stool is vested is known as the Asankera. One would expect that all the members of this group would belong to one known Akan clan group. But far from it, There are, at least, three different clans who claim to belong to the Asankera group. The present Omanhene of Wiawso, for instance, asserts that he is of the Oyoko clan, while Buako and Asafo which are also Asankera are of the Asakyiri and Bretuo clans, respectively. In the Anhwiaso area perhaps the origins of the struggles between the Asona of Wenchi on the one hand, and the Adum-Aduana and the Aduana (Sawua) on the other, stem from a similar unsuccessful arrangement of merging clans with living quarters.

In the political sphere, however, most of the Akan institutions have been easily adopted. The politico-military division of the state into the left, right, and vanguard wings each under a leader who led his men in time of war and administered the division in peace-time is a common feature of the Sefwi constitution. Also all the states have such purely administrative posts as the Kronti, Akwamu, Gyaase, Ankobea, and a host of others which are common with all the other Akan states. In spite of these arrangements, however, it appears that, with the exception of a few important stools in some places the all important office of the queen-mother was unknown or her role was relegated to an inferior status.


Like most of the forest states of West Africa Sefwi’s economy was based on trade. Gold mining and panning as well as ivory hunting were two of the most important occupations. Gold and ivory were exchanged for manufactured goods. A town like Bonzan (when translated the name means the river which spits out gold), owed its fame and importance to its gold industry. Gold from Sefwi and other Aowin towns was regularly sent to Begho to the north and to the European forts at the coast. The route connecting Kumasi to Sefwi was one of the important arteries of trade at the beginning of the 19th century. Towards the end of the 19th century when rubber became one of the principal items of trade in the forest region of Ghana, Sefwi appears to have been active in the tapping of rubber. The abundance of both the tree, Funtumia elastica, and the vine, Landolphia Owarensis, in the area greatly made rubber exploitation a lucrative occupation for the people. It was undoubtedly during this period of rubber boom that Debiso in Sefwi became an important stopping place and market centre for people who journeyed to Kankyaabo (Krinjabo) and other places in modern Ivory Coast. While it may not be denied the importation of European manufactured goods, especially iron implements helped to make possible this economic exploitation, Sefwi and its immediate neighbourhood had had traditions of iron working going back to the pre-European period. To both Denkyira and Sefwi the iron working towns of Tonsuosim (Maudaso) by the Bia, and Bopa-Piri, by the Tano had long provided the much needed hoes and machetes (adre), for the exploitation of the forest.

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